Who’s cashing in?

Ontario’s top-paid university employee is from U of T, and he’s not a professor.

John Lyon made $557,474.36 in salaries and benefits last year, as managing director of private markets and co-chief investment officer at the U of T Asset Management Corporation.

Lyon has come under fire for his high pay after UTAM-managed investments lost $1.3 billion in 2008, where pension and endowment funds lost a third of their value. Endowments are used to fund scholarships, grants, and bursaries.

“UTAM compensation levels are set in relation to investment industry standards, since that is where our staff are drawn from,” wrote Lyon in an email to The Varsity. “My compensation in 2008 reflected performance results for 2007 and prior years, when UTAM outperformed. My 2009 compensation will reflect the 2008 results.”

Lyon also noted that he received extra compensation last year for his additional role as interim CEO.

Lyon’s earnings are followed by five presidents: McMaster, Waterloo, York, Guelph, and U of T’s David Naylor.

The information was released March 31 as part of the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act of 1996, under which the salary and tax benefits of all Ontario university employees upwards of $100,000 must be disclosed and published for the public.

Last year, Naylor and then-vice-provost Cheryl Misak encouraged U of T staff to lower their salaries and expenses.

Online analysts have been noting which university administrators are taking voluntary pay cuts. They’ve also noted that admins in Alberta make more than their Ontario counterparts, and that professors in business and medical fields dominate the pay scale.

Snow and tell

In order to prevent pushing and overcrowding, The Toronto Transit Commission places stickers on the inside doors of subway cars reading “Be Safe and Considerate.” While fourth-year Varsity Blues basketball player Nick Snow hails from London, Ontario, he lives near the Athletic Centre, and does not face a long commute to home games. For games at nearby Ryerson University, the basketball team doesn’t travel by bus, and instead are given the option of taking the subway. If the team were to ever come across the “Be Safe and Considerate” stickers on the way to a game, they might recognize that this description aptly befits Nick Snow and his approach to the game.

The “safe” part of Snow’s approach has been documented before, but remains extremely compelling. Yet the “considerate” Nick Snow is rarely mentioned in print, but is an absolutely essential part of his character. From the first on-court interview, Snow is extremely personable and generous with his time. A gargantuan 6’7” power forward and centre, Snow is extremely honest, but quite humble, always praising his teammates. From this first interview, it is apparent that Snow is well brought up, and furthermore, his consideration extends beyond his inner circle.

Standing against a wall along with his teammates prior to a playoff game against Queen’s, Snow offers up a friendly gesture of familiarity, and engages in a short chat. Afterwards, Snow wins the MVP of the game trophy. Many athletes are unapproachable before a game, but Snow seems to be motivated by knowing that others are cheering for him.

During a later interview, Snow remains his gracious and considerate self. He sits patiently, answering a barrage of questions, long after he gulps down his hot chocolate. His enthusiasm never lags, and afterwards, he profusely offers his thanks. Snow is clearly focused in his desire to be a well-rounded player. When speaking of his game, Snow stresses the importance of striving to play smart.

“I know how to play basketball,” said Snow. “I know when to shoot, when to pass, when to defend, when I need to score, how to get it, when I need to get a stop defensively, and when I need to foul. Those are the kinds of things that I learn through experience and can’t really be taught”.

Snow is thrilled with his decision to come to the University of Toronto. “[U of T] is a good program, with a great coach, really good players, good people, it’s just a good situation to be in,” he said. “[The team] supports each other so much. A lot of teams would not be able to say that to each other. We communicate very well, [both on and off the court].”

Snow is full of his praise for his coach, Mike Katz. “I talk to my coach a lot about becoming a complete basketball player, rather than just someone that can shoot very well.” Snow is most comfortable when leading by example, inspiring his teammates with his tremendous work ethic.

He works harder than other players, and this is where the “safe” part of his personality comes into play. Snow has autoimmune hepatitis, a rare disease in which his immune system attacks his liver. Snow’s condition led to Stage IV scarring, causing an enlarged spleen. Doctors told Snow that he would never play basketball again, due to the damage that the game would cause to his spleen. But instead of giving up, Snow actually sped up his recovery. He helped to design a custom made spleen protector with the sports medicine clinic at U of T. Snow’s idea was to fashion a rugby ball as the main source of protection. He notices that he moves differently when wearing the device, but incorporates the differences into his game.

While Snow shook off the suggestion that his medical condition has helped him to improve as a player, he emphatically stated that it helped him in another way. “[This experience] has helped enhance who I am as a person,” he reflected. “I used to sort of define myself as a basketball player. Now, I am thankful that I can play basketball, and that I am blessed with this one of a kind spleen protector. But at the same time, [basketball] does not define who I am. It is not a part of me. It is just something I do that I love to do.”

Snow’s easygoing nature permeates his entire basketball experience. Oddly, Snow wears number 13 at home, and number 32 on the road. The reason? Someone lost his number 13 road jersey. As befitting his personality, Snow took this mishap in stride, and ran with it, now wearing both numbers. While basketball may not define Snow as a person, it shows his desire to work hard, and to be safe and considerate. “I am always striving to be a more complete basketball player […] It’s just a matter of improving all the things I need to improve.”

Faux news at it again

A couple of days after four Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the American-led war in Afghanistan, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, chief of land staff, issued a statement that the Canadian military “will have to explore the possibility of taking a short operational break.”

When Greg Gutfeld, host of an inconspicuous FOX TV show called Red Eye, heard the news, he couldn’t refrain from a few potshots. In a display of uniquely American obnoxiousness and willful ignorance, Mr. Gutfeld, along with a crew of imbeciles including Doug Benson (a comedian whose gags are about as funny as a dentist’s drill) took aim at Canada’s military. They succeeded in exposing the moral deficiency of FOX News’ personnel (as if this were a surprise). “Isn’t this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country?” asked Gutfeld sarcastically. Benson responded, “I didn’t even know Canada was in the war.” You thought wrong, wise guy. The hopeless mission in Afghanistan has cost the lives of 117 brave soldiers.

While the pair have since apologized—not that an apology means anything from people whose jobs hinge upon their reputation—the incident has brought into question, yet again, the credibility of FOX News. You’d be hardpressed to find a more despicable media network than FOX. Guided by partisanship and sickeningly right wing, FOX has earned its ignominious distinction as the laughing stock of the corporate media. All thanks to media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who profits from FOX’s blatant agenda.

News anchors have developed a technique of baiting their “liberal” guests with questions such as, “Do you love this country?” Of course, any conservative point of view is equated with American patriotism. They consistently make childish, inflammatory remarks about Democrats such as “North Korea loves John Kerry” or “Obama sits on a board with a terrorist” (Bill Ayers). When cornered, they try to weasel their way out through ambiguous expressions like “Some people say…” or a “Everyone know that…” It’s usually unclear who “everyone” is and whether they’re reliable, but FOX personnel have no problem making reference to an imaginary majority.

Consider that just before Bush’s term expired, FOX was all for the tentative $700 billion bailout package. Right after Obama took office and drew up a comprehensive plan, the bailout became a sign of socialism—odd, considering that bailing out private corporations is anything but socialist. Obama was, of course, responsible for wrecking the economy. Back in 1993, when Bill Clinton launched an attack on Somalia, FOX guests vilified Clinton for being hostile. Eight years later, they accused him of not having done enough to fight terrorism. That feeble attack on Clinton was one of many character assassinations carried out by FOX in a manner unbecoming of a news channel whose motto is “Fair and Balanced.”

In the realm of foreign policy, FOX has reached a new low in news reporting. Their modus operandi, according to internal memos leaked by Media Matters for America, has become to toe the neoconservative line as though it were an adjunct of the Republican Party. Consider their attitude towards the Iraq war (which Rupert Murdoch admitted to misleading the public about). FOX, like the Republicans, wanted Americans to think that their troops were out there, killing a lot of terrorists, and winning the war on terror. If you happened to disagree, as actress Janeane Garofalo did, then you hated America and “Saddam must be in love with you,” according to FOX and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade.

It shouldn’t be surprising that FOX News audiences are four times more likely to believe that the U.S. has found links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and three times more likely to believe that WMDs were actually found in Iraq. This is particularly frightening considering that FOX News is actually one of the most popular channels in the United States, holding eight of the 10 most-watched nightly cable news shows with its O’Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes coming in first and second, respectively. I would argue that FOX be reprimanded for spreading lies and misinformation, but it’s a lost cause. Corporate media is big business, after all, so we better get used to it.

UTSU ratifies election results

In accordance with UTSU’s by-laws requiring one meeting per term at UTM, the April 2 meeting took place at the campus’ Student Centre.

Last month’s election results were ratified; and other housekeeping tasks included annually adjusting student levies to meet the economy’s consumer price index.

Innis College Student Society president Mike Maher, who ran unsuccessfully as Change’s VP internal, presented a report entitled “An Analysis of the Final Report of the Chief Returning Officer for the Spring 2009 UTSU Election” produced by members of the ICSS.

The report alleged CRO Lydia Treadwell’s report tallying student votes had a number of irregularities and improbabilities.

Of note were more Trinity College students voting at the Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building than the much closer Gerald Larkin Building, as well as more UTM students voting at St. George than their own campus.

The report also challenged the number of votes attributed to specific locations and suggested changes that would make the vote amounts fit patterns of previous years.

“We weren’t discounting the results per se, but we thought the process was skewed,” said Change slate campaign manager Praan Misir. “It’s really improbable that these are the results when you consider past elections.”

UTSU VP external Dave Scrivener disagreed, describing the report as “trying to undermine the election’s validity by mathematical hackjob.”

“I think there was definitely a sense of frustration [among the Board of Directors],” said Scrivener, who cited that the report publishers did not try to appeal the election results until the deadline had been reached and a month had passed.

“I think it’s more or less just them grasping at straws to illegitimate an election they lost. Students should be expecting better.”

Treadwell was out –of town and could not be reached for comment.

The report, which has been downloaded over 100 times, can be found at http://innisicss.com

Zionism is not racism

I always believed that the right of Jewish national self-determination was synonymous with peace. But now I hear it equated with racism and even Nazism. When did Zionism become a dirty word?

The image of colonialism or imperialism that many wrongly associate with the Zionist movement ignores the reality of Jewish oppression and the origins of this misunderstood movement. Jewish settlers who immigrated to Palestine in the 19th century were reacting against increasingly violent anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Both Arabs and Jews were and still are victims of oppression and racism, but it was not a racist or oppressive impulse that caused early Jewish settlers to buy up Palestinian land. And it was certainly not a desire for colonial power that resulted in the creation of the State of Israel.

Critics of Zionism believe that the Jewish state was born out of guilt over the Holocaust, and that the Palestinians shouldn’t have to pay for the Nazis’ crimes. Among this argument’s many faults is the disregard for Arab complicity in and support for the Holocaust. As European hostility towards Jews increased in the early 20th century, countries around the world closed their doors to Jews trying to escape persecution. Palestine was no exception. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader during the Holocaust, even shared Hitler’s zeal for ridding the world of Jews. He instructed his followers to “slaughter Jews wherever you find them.” He also recorded in his diary that the Arabs were “prepared to cooperate with Germany with all their hearts.”

Critics of Israel argue that Palestinian violence towards Israel is a result of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. This is partly true, but ignores an anti-Semitic attitude that is symptomatic of a historic anti-Semitism within the Arab world. This is not to deny an anti-Arab sentiment amongst Jewish settlers; undoubtedly it exists. But to ignore the history of Arab oppression of the Jews feeds into the myth that the Palestinians have always been innocent bystanders.

While the creation of Israel was not simply a land grab or an attempt to stifle the Arab population of Palestine, it is not hard to see why Israel’s establishment angered so many in the Arab world. Just as hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced out of their Arab homelands, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced by the creation of Israel. But Arab expulsion was never the goal of establishing a Jewish state. In fact, it could have been easily avoided.

In 1947, the UN came up with a partition plan that granted both Arabs and Jews in Palestine their own state. This plan, accepted by the Jews, was rejected by the Palestinian leadership. From 1937 to 1947 to 2000, this has been an ongoing pattern.

Zionism is fully compatible with the establishment of a Palestinian state, and is just as legitimate as the Palestinian liberation movement. But one way to ensure further hatred and violence is the continual equation of Zionism with racism. Zionism is a response to the world’s historic complicity in oppressing or allowing others to oppress the Jews. Given the history of violence towards Jews, a history that extends much further back than 1939, it is not hard to understand why Jews felt the need to create a safe haven in a world that has systematically denied them the most basic human rights. Any criticism of the founding of the State of Israel has to take into account this undeniable feature of Jewish history and identity.

Open Letter to Naylor from The Varsity’s Allison Martell

On April 2, Alison Martell, The Varsity’s director of recruitment and training, received an award recognizing her efforts to improve the student experience. Painfully aware of the award’s ironic tone in light of the Flat Fees proposal, Martell handed the following letter to David Naylor when they shook hands at the ceremony.

Dear President Naylor,

I come here today with a heavy heart. I am honoured to be receiving this award, and pleased that you are supporting initiatives to improve the student experience. But your flat fee scheme will fundamentally undermine the work that we are all recognizing today, and I cannot accept this award without speaking out.

I have been involved with The Varsity since first year. The student press is my foundation, an institution that I love, but not immune to criticism. I have always been concerned that the paper is too insular and elitist, that we do not reflect the diversity of U of T’s student body. At the end of last year, I proposed a new masthead position to address these issues: the director of recruitment and training.

I built a system for recruitment, so that anyone who e-mailed us could have a chance to contribute. I organized training workshops and public events, and mentored students one-on-one through their first assignments. The number of new contributors has increased by orders of magnitude. I see this as the beginning of a long process, but presumably this award recognizes some progress made.

This relates to flat fees in two ways. The first is that I would never have pursued this project under flat fees. I took three courses this year so that I could work at The Varsity, keep up my marks, and coordinate the G8 Research Group’s compliance reports, a nearly full-time pursuit that allows 100 other students to participate in original research. None of my positions come with a salary, and I could not have justified paying full-time fees.

The second, and more important, is that my work at The Varsity will be undermined by this initiative. Our paper is run by editors taking reduced course loads. Many of our writers take only four courses. By stretching their degrees out over time, our staff can manage the part-time jobs they need in the short-run against the journalism experience and good grades they need in the long run. Under flat fees, The Varsity would be written only by students who can afford to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege.

I know that times are tough, but a tax on student leaders is not the right place to find revenue. As student organizations collapse, your initiatives to improve campus life will also fail. I know you understand that to attract top students, this university must improve the student experience. In the medium and long run, flat fees will do more harm than good, no matter how much they improve the university’s financial position. Please, reconsider this initiative.

Yours truly,

Allison Martell

Honeymoon in Washington D.C.

While most of the world has returned to normal following Barack Obama’s historic victory, little seems to have changed in Washington D.C. Residents sporting Obama sweaters, hats, scarves, and pins en masse are only the beginning. Downtown souvenir shops burst at the seams with special edition Obama mugs, pens, peppermints, posters, chocolate bars, “Dress the First Family” books, “I love Michelle” t-shirts, and White House toilet paper. In bookstores, the president’s autobiographies are prominently placed in special section. A cardboard version of the man himself stands nearby, making for the ultimate tourist Kodak moment. Blinded by the multiple hanging Obama rugs and rows of presidential bobble-heads, one barely even notices the “Don’t blame me, I voted McCain/Palin” refrigerator magnets in the corner. In the words of one downtown vendor, these “are not very popular items, to say the least.”

As the epicentre of American politics and the site of the 44th Presidential Inauguration, the city naturally has reason to continue the buzz in the spirit of the recent events. “This was a milestone in American history,” says one D.C. resident who witnessed the January inauguration from the National Mall, a two-mile stretch of land running from the Capitol to the Washington monument. Even residents who did not vote for Obama describe the atmosphere in a similar way, with one woman comparing the mood to a “collective high.”

For Washington D.C.’s African-American community, a group that makes up over half of the city’s population, the event was especially momentous. “It’s normal to make him into a celebrity. He’s the first Black [president],” said an Atlanta-bound passenger who immigrated to the United States from Ghana. “[The hype] is all about race.”

“It was like Christmas-time,” adds Maurice Harcum, manager of Ben’s Chili restaurant, describing the mood in the city during inauguration week. “My fellow Washingtonians, they’re not the friendliest people. But people were talking on the subway, and there was love and joy and sharing,” he further explains.

A city institution in itself, Ben’s Chili has witnessed the struggle for civil rights and substantial transformations in American society in its 50 years of existence. Having been a favourite hangout of Nat King Cole and Miles Davis, the restaurant was also the scene of violent rioting following Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, which destroyed much of the surrounding area. Today, not only is the restaurant considered an historic landmark, it was also recently graced with a visit from then President-elect Obama and Washington mayor Adrien Fenty. Harcum, clearly moved by the experience, explained that he had had tickets to the inauguration but did not feel the need to go after the surprise visit. When asked if Obama was a pleasant customer, Harcum answered: “He insisted on paying.”

Clearly, the overall mood among the city’s residents reflects a positive attitude towards the change in government. Though some support Obama more than others and many are uncomfortable with the level of idolatry established by the souvenir industry, most Washingtonians seem especially relieved that the previous government is no longer in power. “Bush managed to turn off all sides,” states governmental lawyer Bernie Weberman. “It’s nice to have someone who is intelligent, who knows how to do things. It’s good not to have a moron.” Even the American Federation of Government Employees takes no discretion in declaring its enthusiasm for the change by adorning municipal buses with the slogan: “Good Government. We’re Ready!”

Happy or not, residents all seem to concur that Obama is a breath of fresh air, despite the hardships he faces. And though many Washingtonians are hesitant to put all of their faith into their new president, the city still appears rather enthusiastic towards the newest addition to their population. Perhaps Ikea’s star-spangled posters, which hang in the Washington Metro, sum up best the meeting of crass commercialism and genuine hope: “Bring a sense of order back to this country! (Start with a new PAX Wardrobe.)”

Freshly Pressed

Jeffrey Pinto – So It Is A Competition

Jeffrey Pinto’s self-released EP, So It Is A Competition, is an auditory tease. A self-described multi-instrumentalist and frontman for Toronto-based My Shaky Jane, Pinto’s solo work experiments with arrangements, instruments, and styles creating a disjointed and nerve-wracking succession of songs. Though the ideas and the concepts are there, the execution is not.

“I Told You So” opens the album with a lush folk-pop sound, with smooth and eerily overdubbed vocals. Pinto’s nasally twang grates against the soothing yet somewhat monotonous percussion. On “It Is A Competition,” Pinto experiments with an excruciatingly long succession of arrangements that drag on past the five-minute mark, repeating the major progression ad nauseum. The track rambles aimlessly without crescendo or direction, with sporadic bursts of interesting though unrelated sounds.

Pinto hits his vocal stride on “Little Games”—his voice is clearly more suited to upbeat power-ballads than crooning folk-pop. Yet “Little Games” falls prey to a similar monotony, spending two minutes on the repeated phrase, “I don’t want to play your little games,” before jumping into a synth progression of diminutive percussion.

Pinto’s haunting church organ mixed with an electric guitar works wonders on “I Told You So.” But it’s a combination that’s missing from the rest of the EP.

Ultimately, it’s just a little too self-indulgent, running aimlessly without a real musical narrative, auditory crescendo, or climax—stimulating, sure, but not satisfying.


—Emily Kellogg

Sandman Viper Command – Everybody See This

When Burlington natives Sandman Viper Command chose Everybody See This as the title of their debut album, it was undoubtedly intended as a bold statement of the band’s supposed talent and originality. But after listening to this effort, it seems less like a declaration of confidence, and more a desperate plea for listeners to take notice of an album that is drenched in mediocrity.

The record opens with jaunty pop tune “Strawberry Quick,” a bouncy, upbeat number that creates the misleading notion that the album might hold some promise. The song, though catchy, is repetitive and predictable.

The remainder of the album reveals a steady decline in both the quality of songwriting and the band’s ability to intrigue the listener. It’s difficult to say which is worse: cringe-worthy songs like “Mushroom Samba” and “Sunday Driver” or the fact that the entire album, above anything else, is simply lacklustre and boring. From the opening rhythms of the first song to the uninspired ending of the last, no riff is infectious enough, nor any lyric poignant enough, to be captivating.

The album is not without a few commendable moments: some impressive instrumental flourishes prove that these boys are indeed capable musicians, but technical ability is rarely a reflection of a gifted and fully-formed band. While the odd guitar solo might be momentarily arresting, vocalist Rob Janson’s wavering, high-pitched whine becomes increasingly grating as the album plays on.

For an album whose title boasts such brazen self-assuredness, the delights are minuscule, and the disappointments immense.


—Niamh Fitzgerald

The Isosceles Project – Oblivion’s Candle

Oblivion’s Candle is the debut from Toronto prog-metal trio The Isosceles Project. It might be labeled an EP, but don’t let the track count fool you—with songs averaging 10 minutes in length, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.

On opening track “Doppelganger,” guitarist Eric Euler shows that he’s one of the best up-and-coming guitarists in Toronto, masterfully blending styles ranging from Mars Volta jazz-funK to crushing Pelican rhythms, all in a single song.

But the spotlight doesn’t belong solely to Euler—the band picked the name The Isosceles Project because it signifies two equal sides, the other half being the rhythm section, which rounds out with Scott Tessier on bass and Justin Falzon on drums. The Isosceles Project don’t deal in showboating, they’re just some of Toronto’s most technically superior musicians doing what they do best. Their intricate style allows the band to shine without the help of a vocalist.

It’s just as well, because the blasting metal rhythms of the standout title track can barely be put into words—the band claim it took them over six months to compose and master it. Next is “Solace,” which begins calm and droning and builds steadily before propelling the listener into a wall of spastic storming guitars.

Boasting tremendous creativity and passion, The Isosceles Project are starting a new metal movement in Toronto, and they’re doing it without words.


—Alex Fortuna

Teeter – Heating Up

Teeter’s brand of upbeat heartbreak pop-punk evokes some major nostalgia for the days when Jimmy Eat World ruled and Fall Out Boy had yet to de-throne them. The jarring opening power chords of “Kiss Me and Kill Me After” are accompanied by harsh percussion and soaring harmonies, and they inspire a shuddering wave of nostalgic narcissism for those of us who tried to “stick it to the man” in our early teens by donning oversized Vans sneakers, and scrolling through the 30 songs on our first iPods.

Which isn’t to say that Teeter don’t pump out catchy phrases, sing-along harmonies, and a head-bobbing beat—and hey, after a couple of drinks, the pop-punk angst in the earnest vocals and simplistic lyrics is sure to inspire some sweaty teenage bodies to crash into each other in an impromptu mosh pit. Heating Up was produced by major emo hitmaker Paul Leavitt (All Time Low, Senses Fail)—and the band revels in the most winning characteristics of the genre.

“Standing At Your Window” delves shamelessly into the realm of the cliché, to the extent that it almost becomes an experiment of self-conscious caricature. With lyrics written in rhyming couplets: “I’m standing at your window and I just want to know / I’m hoping and pleading because I’m still believing,” their choruses draw attention to glib phrases about heartbreak. After all, “Kiss me, and kill me after” sounds like something written in ALL CAPS on Facebook chat.

Teeter are the ultimate ear candy—you know, the stuff you keep stuffing in your mouth until you puke purple sweet tarts all over the place.


—Emily Kellogg

Night Flowers – Night FLowers

Local alternative rock trio Night Flowers’ MySpace page boasts that their music is a collection of roughly 10 million influences, and therein lies the problem with their self-titled debut EP: they can’t pick a sound and stick to it. The result is a genre-jumping mess of styles that never quite coalesces into a recognizable whole.

At times, it seems like Night Flowers are clamouring in vain for atmospheric grunge to make a comeback (“Fortune Cookie”), then they turn around and bust out a dance beat and jagged power chords (“Man of the People”), followed by a dose of Luscious Jackson-style Lilith Fair indie rock (“Pep Rally”).

Guitarist Tara Rice, drummer Kim Heron, and brilliantly-named bassist Sködt McNalty trade up vocals, and while each have pleasant voices, the passing of the spotlight doesn’t help with the lack of continuity.

Rice’s snarling lead vocal on “Ground Zero” shows some promise, but McNalty fares much worse with “Fortune Cookie,” a plodding, slow jam that sounds like Stone Temple Pilots coming down from a particularly bad trip.

It’s significant that the album’s best track is its most adventurous. Six-minute closer “Knock On Wood” begins with a loungey tropical vibe, and breaks at the three-minute mark into a glorious outro with angelic harmonies and distorted guitars that make 1993 sound fresh again. At long last, a sound emerges for Night Flowers to bank upon.

This EP is the sound of a growing band trying on different styles before adopting one for good. Perhaps Night Flowers ought to have waited until they found one before making an album.


—Rob Duffy